Tennis: Tough draw for women’s champ Elina Svitolina

By Sheena Amos

Elina Svitolina

DUBAI 17 February 2019: Elina Svitolina, who is attempting to become the first WTA player to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in three successive years, faces an intimidating challenge as she is in the same quarter of the draw as double Grand Slam champion and world No. 1 Naomi Osaka as well as former No. 1, French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

Former champion Caroline Wozniacki also faces a tough draw when play gets underway tomorrow. The long-standing Dubai Duty Free ambassador, who claimed the title in 2011, will need to overcome not only a confident Samantha Stosur but the after effects of a virus that last week forced her out of the Qatar Open and into bed. That setback followed a disappointing start to the 2019 season as she was beaten by a qualifier in the second round in Auckland and then fell to Maria Sharapova in the third round of the Australian Open.

Stosur, in contrast, had her confidence buoyed last month by claiming the Australian Open doubles title, and at the age of 34 her famous fighting qualities are undiminished. And also in Wozniacki’s path if she gets past Stosur in the first round are recent world No. 1 and 2015 Dubai winner Simona Halep and 2016 Dubai champion Sara Errani. Fourth seed and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova is in the same quarter of the draw as 2018 Wimbledon winner and No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber.

World No. 2 and 2013 Dubai champion Petra Kvitova will be tough to beat as she chases a second Dubai crown. She has followed a highly successive 2018 season during which she claimed five titles with a fantastic start to the year, winning Sydney and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open. After a first round bye she could face former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, 2018 Dubai runner-up Daria Kasatkina and seventh seed Kiki Bertens in her quarter of the draw.

“We are delighted that so many wonderful players will yet again be competing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “With nearly everyone from the top 30 challenging for the trophy there is no doubt that the competition will be just as intriguing as it was at the recent Australian Open and it will be just as difficult trying to predict who will emerge as our 2019 champion.”

Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “There are many tough matches ahead for so many of the players who have earned top honours both here in Dubai and at the very highest level, the Grand Slams. That is a reflection of the incredible field that will be competing over the next week, with even the most successful competitors facing no certainty of success here. It is going to be fascinating to see who manages to emerge as the winner next Saturday.”

Dubai Gazette